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America’s presidential race is the most grueling experience in democratic politics

The oldest 2020 presidential candidate insists he’s still feeling the Bern.

After a heart attack, 78-year-old Bernie Sanders seemed to suggest he would slow the pace of his campaign. But stung by politically damaging reports that he was slowing down, he now says he “misspoke.”

His reversal is not surprising: Ceding ground for health reasons is dangerous for any candidate — especially for one who deflected questions about age by pointing to his breakneck campaign schedule.

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But there’s no doubt Sanders has been more reflective since his scare, saying he should have listened more to his body. Usually he sees such personal talk as a distraction from “issues” — a word the native Brooklynite relishes as if munching a delicious pastrami sandwich.

I last saw Sanders a few weeks back under a beating sun in New Hampshire. Red-faced and with sweat spotting his pate until he called for a baseball cap, Sanders pounded out a soliloquy bashing billionaires, which he repeats up to four times daily.

An American presidential race is the most grueling experience in democratic politics, yet this one has four candidates whose ambition keeps them chasing power into their 70s.

While most countries wrap up elections in a matter of weeks, US campaigns mean hundreds of rallies, endless TV interviews, late night flights, bad food and fitful sleeps in scrubby hotels.

As the vote nears, candidates flee the sunset, flying west to extend campaign days, before returning east in the early hours to catch an early morning crowd.

Warning: Running for president can endanger your health.

This story was originally published in the October 10 edition of email newsletter ‘Meanwhile in America.’ Sign up here to receive it every morning of the week.



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